SOC Awards 2023: Colin Farrell Speech Transcription
(Starting at 5:50 on video above)

You did great man, he was all nervous and shit. You did great, Jason thank you so much, man. I don’t know who you were talking about during the introduction, but I’m glad to be here to represent them. Yeah, I’ve had an amazing –  when Jason texted me about – thank you, by the way, SOC for having me. It’s really an extraordinary event that the transparency of your support for each other and your love of film is really, really cool because I’ve dreamed to be an actor ever since I was 14 and I actually can’t get to, fully believe, that I get to realize that dream over and over and over again. But what I was saying was, when Jason texted me three months ago and asked me to do this, I thought it was random, because – and I was grateful but I thought, you know, it’d been 17 years since I operated on The New World. And while at the time I thought my work was grossly overlooked, I had healed but not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth I thought, I’m in and then he said it was a Lifetime Achievement Award and I thought, fuck you, I’m 46 man. No, I was so happy so I just wrote a few words, if you don’t mind and unlike Bruce and Darrell, I’m not going to keep it short so I do apologize in advance.

Camera operators, boy, am I glad you exist. Not just so that I can get an award without being nominated. But, for us actors, you are our first audience and you are our fourth-wall. You’re that force that we are constantly aware of, while trying to hide that very fact. You are the curtain that opens revealing to the public, the world that they are about to enter. I have loved collaborating with so many of you through the years. It’s a funny, old relationship we have because you’re tasked with looking at us actors, straight into us sometimes and we are tasked with looking, glancing, staring, anywhere in the 360 degrees of space, we are surrounded by, anywhere except for the few degrees of space that you inhabit. It’s strange that for us to complement each other, our relationship must be so fundamentally imbalanced, but of course, it is not.

One doesn’t have to face the camera to be revealed to the camera. It may not be as explicit or as easily read, but truth exists in the posture, the very bearing of the human being just as much as the facial expression and you capture it all. Everything that happens on a film set, every flower that bends, every tear that falls, every spoon that stirs tea, every bird that takes flight or every river that runs through it, is captured by you. And you have, so many of you capture for all time that which has become such a part of my story, not as an actor. I’m saying that so many of my memories, of my childhood, my youth the predate but also inform my work as an actor, have been the result, the direct result of your creative journey. A ship missing for decades suddenly stands monolithic on the desert floor in the midst of a sandstorm and scientists are confounded by the majesty of its reappearance. A camera holds steady, tight on the tired face of Jason Robards as Frank in the painful moments that he realizes his gambling addicted son played so beautifully by Tom Hulce, is lost to him forever. The intensity of being subjected to the relentless brutal violence of Jake LaMotta versus Sugar Ray Robinson in Raging Bull, that whole sequence and opera of camera operation. So many of you folks have shaped so much of my life and you shape it still by connecting me with my children through our shared love of cinema, memories being born anew. It’s not, they’re not empty platitudes delivered to charm or entice, just a lived truth being lived still, so as an actor, it’s a touch different. I understand that you don’t just capture what is before you, you interpret it as well. And I realize how completely we are bound, actors and camera operators, we are bound by the words on the page, we are bound by our director’s visions, we are bound by the desire to explore the plains of natural and manufactured events and things where we hope to find a moment’s beauty and a moment’s truth or sometimes the sorrow of an ugliness into cruelty that is also sadly so much a part of our shared human experience, but unlike actors, you of course, never look away.

Your constant attendance to the heartbeat of every moment where we are bound ultimately, by being of service to the story. Some of my favorite moments in my working life have been when I found myself the beneficiary of a rhythm and a trust that the camera operator and I have arrived at. Can’t be manufactured of course, it just comes on its own clock naturally as a result of mutual respect and shared sense of purpose. You see, trust and vulnerability are often referred to as cornerstones of the creation of any shared artistic endeavor. And for the collaboration to be effective, they must be present and when they are, that is when I feel most connected. When we, the director, the boom operator, camera operator, focus puller, grip, gaffer, we’re all one living breathing entity, multifaceted MTZ pursuing a common dream when we’re open, when we’re in communion, when we’re syncopated. And I have been touched to, you sensitive creatures you, I have been touched to – I have, I swear to God I have, by your sensitivity. When an actor feels that strange, almost shame sometimes, that can be the result of opening your heart to the moment when deep sadness or pain are revealed within the scene, I have witnessed and felt at the end of the take by the generosity of a bowed head or a brief wordless touch on the arm when the scene is complete, the support and solidarity of the artist’s heart. For that’s what you are of course, you’re quite simply artists and it is your eye that is both brush and paint. And look, trust me, I realized that what you shoot is also far more than the human experience of thought, emotion and behavior.

No matter how big a part may be it is never about the individual actor to do that would be a betrayal to the whole process. You shoot nature, you shoot industry, you shoot animals and insects, that could be taken the wrong way, we’re going live, you shoot a pebble splitting a stream of rainwater in two on a quiet suburban street during a thunderstorm and I am moved. You suggest lenses, you offer up angles, you ask the focus puller to rack focus at a certain moment in the scene and then you let the focus puller know who or what to rack to, you dance a very delicate dance in tandem with your director and in those moments I observe and start to get excited about my complicity, what I am being invited into and I love those moments when you appear to feel the trust of your director enough that you have the freedom to play. It’s usually handheld of course, you have the freedom to choose where to look within the scene and when that liberation comes to you, your freedom becomes mine. Again, that shared experience, so you camera operators you, I’ll end how I began and say that boy am I glad you exist. I’d be shit out of work if you didn’t. And to those I’ve worked with, those I hope to work with someday and those whose work has already moved me, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my gratitude and admiration for what you do. And I thank you for Camera Operator of the Year Award, 17 years after the fact. Have a great evening and thank you so much for this evening. It’s really an honor to be here. Thank you so much.